Thanksgiving Turkey

This is a picture of last Thanksgiving’s turkey. It isn’t the greatest picture, but unfortunately, earlier this year I accidentally deleted a bunch of recipe pictures from my laptop. It was such a sad day. I cried. Literally.

Years and years ago, before I was really even cooking as good or as much as I do now, my husband’s step-mom taught me how to cook a turkey. She also told me that the secret was Crisco butter flavored shortening. I know, it sounds almost crazy and it isn’t something that you would want to cook with all the time, it certainly isn’t the greatest thing to put in your body…but, we are talking about Thanksgiving here, people. I mean it’s like the biggest day for gluttony all year round. Sometimes you just have to live on the edge a little! Plus, it makes for THE best flavoring on your turkey, I mean, amazing.

I know that the latest greatest way to fix a turkey is to brine it, but I have never tried that, so I don’t know if it is really that much better or not. Honestly, I can’t plan that far enough ahead. I don’t know why, but I can’t ever seem to get my T-Day supplies in order until the last minute every year. I never get to the stores in time to find fresh turkeys, so I always end up with a frozen one and then I am on the countdown every year to hope it thaws out in time. Geesh. I am such an organized, on the ball kinda gal, but for some reason, this whole turkey thing gets me every year.

This is my tried and true recipe for turkey and I have cooked it this way for about 12 years now. I have never had one turn out bad and everyone always seems to love it! The flavors of everything that go on it and in it are just amazing.

This recipe is for 1 (one) 22-26 pound turkey, which is what I usually cook every year. If you make a smaller turkey, you can adjust the recipe accordingly. I do not cook my stuffing inside the turkey, I stuff it with fruits and vegetables. Make sure you remove the package with the gibblets from the back of the turkey!

If you need help with learning how to lift the skin up to put the seasonings under it, or how to properly carve a turkey, there are many videos on the web that you take a look at! Unfortunately, all of the pictures I had of those processes were ones that got deleted!

**This recipe is gluten free.

Thanksgiving Turkey

For the outside of the turkey:

  • 1 package of fresh poultry herbs, chopped fine (usually called a poultry bouquet)
  • 1 stick butter flavored Crisco
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • zest of 1 orange, chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) minced garlic
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pampered Chef Southwestern Seasoning (this is optional, but something that my turkey never goes without)

Add all of these ingredients together in a small bowl and mix with a spatula until everything is well combined in the shortening.

With your turkey in the roasting pan, right above where the legs are tied together and right above the cavity, take a small knife and make a slight cut in the skin so that you can stick your hand in and slowly and carefully separate the skin from the meat of the turkey. This is kind of tricky, and on this turkey the skin split on me on one side. Try to go as far back and on each side as you can get. Using about half the mixture take your hands and spread it under the skin of the turkey directly on top of the meat. Take the remaining mixture, and spread it all over the top of the entire turkey on the skin. Then shake on a generous amount of seasoning all over the entire turkey. If you do not have the PC seasoning, you could use salt and pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, or any other seasonings you like and your family prefers.

For the inside of the turkey:

  • the leafy and white inner parts of a package of celery
  • 1 large orange or two tangerines, sliced in rings and seeds removed
  • 1 large lemon, sliced in rings and seeds removed
  • 1/2 of a sweet onion, sliced in thin rings
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled

Basically, you are just going to take all of these ingredients and stuff them all into the cavity of the turkey. If they come out a little and lay on the legs, that’s ok.

Pour in about a cup of water into the cavity. At this point, you just want to cover the whole thing with aluminum foil and then cook at the temperature and the time suggested on the packaging for the size of your turkey. Some people cook the turkey uncovered in the beginning of cooking time, until it gets browned, and then place a foil ‘tent’ over the top for the remainder of the time. I usually keep mine covered in the foil at the start and then remove it when there is about 1 1/2 – just under two hours left so that the top gets browned and nice and crispy on the outside. You can baste it with its juices about every 30-45 minutes during cooking time.

The KEY and most important part of this whole process is that, when your turkey is done, take it out of the oven, cover it and let it sit, untouched for about 25-30 minutes. This will ensure that all of the juices have time to properly distribute after cooking and will guarantee a very juicy and moist turkey.

This is the only picture I had left of the turkey after I had starting cutting it up, but you can see the bits of herbs baked into the meat.

We have a lot of friends/family from England, and across the pond they have a little thing called Bisto Gravy Granules. The first time I ever had this gravy I fell in love. Hard. It’s absolutely the best gravy ever. I use the aahh! Bisto Favourite in the bright red container. On Thanksgiving, I actually use the drippings from the turkey, instead of adding water, to make the gravy and it is the BEST ever. If you have never tried it, you definitely need to. I am sure you will be as big a fan as our family is. **Bisto is not gluten free

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